Minor Mage

Minor Mage by T. Kingfisher

I read this eBook because I liked A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking, a newer book by the author. I enjoyed this fantasy novel for teens, tweens, and adults even more. Oliver, a minor mage, is 12. His mother is out of town. His familiar is an armadillo. The armadillo’s mother was the familiar of the elderly wizard who taught Oliver everything he knows. And, other than learning about using herbs, it’s not much. Oliver only knows how to use three spells. Trying to summon an elemental or becoming invisible are just a bit tricky at the moment. But Oliver’s village is struggling during a drought, so he gets sent on a journey with his familiar to the Rainblade Mountains, in an attempt to bring back some rain.

Oliver and the armadillo are very appealing characters. Their adventures, while many, are not predictable, either to Oliver or the reader. They meet ghuls, bandits, pigs, an evil mayor, and a musician in this charming, heartwarming story. The eBook is available from Hoopla Digital and from Media on Demand/Libby.

Readalikes include the Tiffany Aching series by Terry Pratchett, beginning with The Wee Free Men, The Penric and Desdemona novellas by Lois McMaster Bujold, books by Caroline Stevermer and Patricia Wrede, Uprooted by Naomi Novik, and The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison.

Brenda

A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking

A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher

Mona, 14, is an orphan who works at her Aunt Tabitha’s bakery. She has a knack with bread and cookie dough, and can make gingerbread men dance for the bakery’s customers. Her bread is exceptionally good, thanks to a sourdough starter named Bob. One early morning, Mona arrives at the bakery to find a body on the floor; someone who also had a magical talent. The dreaded Spring Green Man has struck, again. But Mona first has to clear her name, aided by the city’s Duchess. A boy named Spindle and a skeleton horse help her in what turns out to be a quest to save their city, aided by some really massive baked goods. By turns funny and deadly serious, this exciting Andre Norton Nebula Award winner is a good readalike for Terry Pratchett’s fantasy novels featuring Tiffany Aching and the Wee Free Men.

Brenda

Legendborn

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

Bree Matthews and her friend Alice are accepted into the Early College program at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Bree’s mother recently died in a car accident, and she doesn’t always make the best choices. Assigned a peer mentor, Nick, she realizes he can also see magical creatures like hellhounds, and asks to join his secret society at the college as a page. She doesn’t realize he’s connected to King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Meanwhile, Bree’s new counselor, who knew her mother, introduces her to her Black Southern magical roots, where she learns that her female ancestors still have stories to tell. While Bree’s classes are barely mentioned and Bree doesn’t share what’s going on with Alice or her father, this is an immersive and suspenseful fantasy novel with numerous plots twists that neither Bree nor the reader will see coming. The well-developed and diverse characters, especially mysterious and menacing Sel, have me looking forward to a sequel expected next year. 

Brenda

Majesty

Majesty by Katharine McGee

This is an enjoyable coming of age story set in an alternate American future, in which George Washington was crowned king. In this sequel to American Royals, Beatrice is now America’s first queen, and is feeling burdened with her new responsibilities, especially the expectation that she will marry a nobleman. Her fun-loving sister Samantha is now the heir, and has her own romantic problems, as does her friend Nina, along with Nina’s rival, Daphne. There is more pomp and circumstance than glitz and glamor in this second book. The main characters are appealing and I didn’t predict the ending. While the author could write another American Royals book, none is currently planned. Perfect for royal watchers looking for an entertaining read.

Brenda

Family Friends Reads

Family Friendly Reads

These are books kids, teens, and adults may all enjoy. Read together, by yourself, or listen to a downloadable audiobook. All titles are available from our Overdrive/Libby collection Media on Demand.

The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus (Aven Green #1) by Dusti Bowling
The War That Saved My Life; The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
The Wild Robot and The Wild Robot Escapes by Peter Brown
Beezus and Ramona (Ramona Quimby #1) and The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary
The BFG; Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; Matilda by Roald Dahl
Blended by Sharon Draper
The Ruins of Gorlan (Ranger’s Apprentice #1) by John Flanagan
Space Case (Moon Base Alpha #1) by Stuart Gibbs
The Inquisitor’s Tale by Adam Gidwitz
Home Sweet Motel (Welcome to Wonderland #1) by Chris Grabenstein
Refugee by Alan Gratz
A Few Red Drops: The Chicago Race Riot of 1919 by Claire Hartfield
Midsummer’s Mayhem by Rajani LaRocca
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
Pippi Longstocking (Pippi Longstocking #1) by Astrid Lindgren
Mrs. Piggle Wiggle by Betty MacDonald
The False Prince (Ascendance #1); Resistance by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Wonder by R. J. Palacio
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Harry Potter #1) by J.K. Rowling
Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed
The Blackthorn Key (The Blackthorn Key #1) by Kevin Sands
Dealing with Dragons (Enchanted Forest #1) by Patricia Wrede

Brenda, along with Jane, Elizabeth, and Mary Ann of the Children’s Department

Scythe

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Most people in this future utopian society are content, but are their lives still meaningful? Death and old age are now reversible conditions, except for those gleaned by an order of scythes. Feared and celebrated, scythes can grant a year of immunity. Teens Citra and Rowan are selected to be apprentices to Scythe Faraday, but only one will be chosen to be a scythe. This is a unique, astounding blend of philosophy and high-octane adventure. First in the Arc of a Scythe trilogy, this book is deservedly popular with teens and adults. The sequels are Thunderhead and The Toll.
Brenda

American Royals

American Royals by Katharine McGee

Princess Beatrice, 21, will one day rule the United States. Her brother Jefferson and sister Samantha, both 19, have far less pressure and have time for romance and travel, recently evading their security detail in Thailand. Their family is descended from George Washington, America’s first king, in this alternate history. Beatrice is encouraged to meet future suitors at a ball, as duty comes before love, or must it? A sequel is planned for this novel by the author of the Thousandth Floor trilogy, set 100 years in the future. While the plot is somewhat predictable, the characters are well-crafted and relatable. With plenty of drama, intrigue, and romance, this is an entertaining read, perfect for royal watchers.
Brenda

Aurora Rising

Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

A fun, exciting science fiction novel written for teens, but with plenty of appeal for all fans of space opera. Tyler Jones misses the chance to draft a squad of the best cadets graduating Aurora Academy, but for an excellent reason. On a late night practice flight, Tyler responds to a distress beacon and rescues Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, in cryosleep for over 200 years. His squad, including his twin sister, has unexpected talents and quickly gets in over their heads on what should be a routine mission. Fast-paced and full of adventure, this first book in a new series by the authors of the Illuminae Files is off to a great start.
Brenda

Jane, Unlimited

Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore

As a big fan of Cashore’s previous novels—The Graceling Series—I have long awaited Jane, Unlimited. I was happy to rediscover her immersive writing style and strong, complex characters. Her newest book is more of mystery with a fantasy twist than her other straight fantasy novels. Jane arrives at “Tu Reviens” Mansion with her friend Kiran for a seasonal ball, but after a number of peculiar things happen—missing art pieces, overhead late night conversations, and the disappearances and reappearances of people—Jane begins wonder what is actually happening at the mansion. As the mystery unfolds, Jane reaches a point where she must decide how she will uncover the truth. This decision changes her future in ways Jane could never have imagined. Created in an interesting format, readers who enjoy mysteries, multiverses, or unearthing new discoveries will enjoy this book. It also gets bonus points for having diverse representation.

Sarah

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